Today, Onward To Our Past® is pleased to present our fourth and final installment of AMERICAN CZECHS (Čechové Američtí) from the book titled “Národopisná Výstava Českoslovanská v Praze 1895″. This book was the guidebook and background book for the fabulously popular Czechoslavic Ethnographic Exposition held in Prague, Bohemia in 1895.
Today’s final installment features the conclusion of the discussion in this book of the Czech-American section at the Exposition.
“Unfortunately, these authorized representatives lacked a sense for the most characteristic buildings of the new American settlers, specifically the dugout house and the log cabin. These structures constituted a necessary part of the program as an illustration of a stage in the development of the residences of the Czech immigrant. It was even quite possible that the workers lacked the necessary knowledge of the detailed appearance of these structures, as they can now be only found in the far west of the America.
The “dugout house” which was, in fact, for a long time the dwelling for the majority of the Czech settlers in the prairies of Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, parts of Minnesota, and both Dakotas, the really interesting and quite historical structure, was not even built. The log cabin was built incorrectly without the slightest effort for authenticity. This divergence from, and thus violation of, the program, was excused by financial limitations. It was, however, felt, by all those who knew the American immigrant conditions, that the Czech-American division may have been more interesting to a much broader audience had it not been for this deviation.
On the other hand, the builders and organizers were rather prompt and so the American “settlement” was complete, shortly after the opening of the exhibition. Thus, in the first days of the exhibition the displayed “America” received a considerable amount of attention from the visitors. The biggest attendance was, however, recorded during the economic exhibition on the “St. John days” of June 23rd and 24th, during the exhibition of livestock, during the days of June 2nd and 3rd, and during the celebratory days of welcoming and hosting of the great Czech-American party in Prague, arriving there on June 14th and which was ceremonially greeted during the exhibition on June 15th. It was the largest collective trip of the American compatriots to the homeland, after the first joint tour in 1885. It contained four hundred participants.
They were welcomed in the temple used as the exhibition venue by the deputy of the Catholic division, a Prague priest named P. Vavřinec Hojsa. In the residence, they were welcomed by the deputy of the Freethinking division Josef Krčil, the “administrator” of the settlement. A scheduled grand celebration of the American Independence Day, however, had to be cancelled. This memorable day, at home always lavishly celebrated, was only marked by a musical “academy” in the concert hall of the exhibition grounds.
The musical ensemble of Vojt. Holeček, called the “Falcon of Plzeň” Group in Chicago, came with the tour and played on many occasions in the “saloon”. However, this was the last event to attract visitors to the unique Czech-American settlement until September, when the exhibition of agricultural crops enlivened this part of the exhibition venue again.”
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